Marissa Mayer’s Latest Big Edict

Laura Shin

Marissa MayerYahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has banned employees from working from home.

An all-staff memo that went out Friday said, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Internet condemnation was swift and fierce.

  • The Atlantic: Marissa Mayer Is Wrong: Working From Home Can Make You More Productive
  • Quartz: The Worst Decision Marissa Mayer Has Made in Her Tenure as Yahoo CEO
  • Forbes: 4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-At-Home-Work Policy Is An Epic Fail

As the San Jose Mercury News sedately summarized, “Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s ban on telecommuting sparks a firestorm.”

But surprisingly, despite the vociferous outcry, a number of people made vocal their support of the ex-Googler and power maternity leave mom who only took two weeks off after giving birth to her firstborn in the fall.

The Haters

First, let’s get on record why some people think her move was a horrible, no good idea:

  1.  A number of telecommuting studies show that productivity actually goes up when workers work from home. As The Atlantic points out, a Stanford study of a Chinese travel agency showed that telecommuting workers took fewer breaks and sick-days and answered more calls every minute. Additionally, a survey of studies on telecommuting and productivity had a hard time finding any study that did not show telecommuting boosted productivity.
  2. A no-telecommuting policy means higher costs for Yahoo. The Atlantic also referenced a Cisco study that found it saved $277 million a year due to telecommuting.
  3. Finally, employees who telecommute have lower stress levels. This was one of the results in the Chinese travel agency study, and Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, told Forbes that people who work from home tend to have less stress because they don’t have to endure the stress of commuting and because they have better work/life balance.

All sound like reasonable points, but cue the backlash to the backlash: Some are saying that what applies generally may not apply at Yahoo.

  • Val

    She also had a nursery built next door to the office. How convenient for her.

  • Maggie

    Yahoo is an irrelevant company (who uses it? No one in the tech world that I know.) So, an irrelevant CEO for an irrelevant company. As far as banning employees from working from home, it’s easy for her to say, given that she can bring her child TO work (did she extend that “benefit” to anyone else?) … she’s basically said, “Let them eat cake.”

    • GLC

      Do you think this might prompt her to create a Yahoo nursery and day care for all employees who need it? That might be the way for her not to seem so harsh and actually have her employees be thankful for her leadership. We shall see!

  • Guest

    First & foremost I think Marissa’s actions show real leadership. She’s been charged with turning around an antiquated company and the only way she can do that is assessing the talent she has and making them work collectively as a team. Innovation is going to be key to success. What I find more “interesting” is the scrutiny she’s under. Is it her age, her sex, that she is a working mother? Certainly similar critiques are not made of other Fortune 500 CEO’s leading their teams.